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Just Say No: Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

Do you feel exhausted during the holidays?  Overextended and unsatisfied?  Do you feel like you’re walking on egg shells?  Trying to please everyone and make sure they’re all happy?  Do you feel anxious amidst the busyness, envying those that seem to be at peace?  

Then it might be time to set some boundaries.

Boundaries are property lines that determine where you begin and someone else ends.  They are limits we put into place to protect ourselves and those around us.

Anxiety levels raise exponentially during the holidays.  Much of this is due to poor boundary setting.  So, let’s talk about some practical boundaries you can set this holiday season to reduce the amount of stress for you and your family.

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Boundaries with Money

Set a budget prior to Christmas and stick to the budget.  If you spend only what you can afford, you will not create financial stress.  Make a list of who you will buy gifts for, and don’t feel obligated to get everyone a gift.  Choose meaningful gifts, and maybe even channel your inner DIY.  You can save a lot of money by personalizing something as opposed to buying a popular item.

Boundaries with Time

The holidays are busy.  You don’t have to say “yes” to every party.  You don’t have to attend four Christmases in two days.  Slow things down and keep it simple.  Practice saying “no” in a polite way.  You don’t even need to give an explanation.  “Thank you for the invite, but we’ve decided to do Christmas at our house this year.”  “We’re going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  Maybe we can do your house next year!” “Have fun tonight!  We’ve decided to stay home.”  Think quality, not quantity.  Quality time is more likely when you are able to be emotionally present with your friends and family, as opposed to feeling scattered because you have crammed too much in.

Boundaries with Relationships

Your relationship to yourself is an important one that is often overlooked.  Take care of yourself by giving yourself time to recharge your batteries.  Exercise, eat healthy, do something you enjoy!  Make celebrations a joint effort.  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at your house, offer to cook the main dish and have others bring sides.  Getting your house ready for guests is a lot in itself.  You don’t have to do it all!  

Decide what traditions your family wants to keep and honor those traditions.  If your office party interferes with your family’s annual visit to Starry Nights, politely decline the invitation to the office party.

Imperfect is IN!

You can’t be everything to everyone and do everything for everyone.  Give yourself a break.  Embrace the messy house, the late Christmas cards, and the burnt turkey.  The way you love the people around you is what really matters, not if you have a perfectly styled centerpiece at your table.

Focus on what you are celebrating, and not what is expected of you.  Ask yourself if you’re being reasonable about your own expectations.  Decide for yourself what you can and can’t do and don’t feel guilty about it!

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